Blood tests provide us with a wealth of information about our bodies. Whether routine or specific, blood tests help doctors assess and monitor the inner workings of many body systems. Many people are familiar with having blood tests to measure cholesterol levels, thyroid function, liver health, and kidney function. Other common reasons to have blood tests include to assess nutritional health, as well as to manage and monitor pregnancy. Aside from the regular reasons to have a blood test, there are other lesser-known ways blood work can help manage our health. Read on to learn these 8 surprising things blood tests can reveal.
Anxiety and depression.
Though complex to diagnose, blood tests can help your doctor pinpoint if you are suffering from anxiety and / or depression. If you or your doctor suspects you may be suffering from one of these ailments, blood tests can also provide important clues as to the cause. For example, blood tests can reveal a B12 or folate deficiency, which can cause symptoms of anxiety or depression. If this is the case, treatment would be relatively easy to implement, providing relief from symptoms. In terms of clinical depression, blood tests can now pinpoint and measure certain hormones related to the disease. This makes receiving a proper diagnosis and treatment much easier that it has been in the past.
Your biological age.
Your biological age refers to how old your physical body seems compared to other people in your age group. This can be very different from your chronological age, which simply measures the number of years since your birth. The way that biological age is measured is by tracking specific protein levels from a blood test. These levels are then compared to other blood samples from other individuals. Some of the factors that could impact your biological age include lifestyle choices such as smoking, exercise, and diet. Unlike your chronological age, your biological age is not set in stone. By improving your health through lifestyle habits, you can actually lower your biological age.
Your risk of alcoholism.
Research has shown that a specific blood chemical tends to be elevated in people who are susceptible to alcoholism. This chemical, “PEth,” also tends to be elevated in adults who have a history of heavy alcohol intake. Learning if you have higher PEth levels from a blood test can be very beneficial to your overall health and lifestyle planning. Having this knowledge can assist your doctor with treatment plans, should you ever be at risk from alcohol consumption.
If you have a concussion.
In the past, CT scans were the most common way to obtain a definitive concussion diagnosis. More recently, a new test has been approved which is over 99% effective at ruling out concussions. This saves a lot of worry and further diagnostic testing for people who may have had a head injury. This newer blood test measures a certain type of protein that the brain releases after sustaining an injury. By analyzing the amount of protein, doctors can get a clearer picture of the nature of brain injuries.
If you have hearing loss.
Though not the primary method of diagnosing hearing loss, blood tests can provide important early warning signs. As with many other ailments, certain blood markers are detectable in people who have inner ear disorders. This can include different types of hearing loss, and vertigo. Having the knowledge that these blood markers are present can help your doctor better assess and treat any inner ear issues.
Your risk of Alzheimer’s.
Blood tests that track and measure certain markers related to Alzheimer’s can be extremely beneficial to your overall health. Since these markers can show up decades before Alzheimer’s actually develops, this early warning can be crucial. More importantly, these markers can be present long before any other symptoms occur. If your doctor finds these markers in your system from a blood test, they can suggest lifestyle tips to help. Knowing that you may be susceptible to developing Alzheimer’s in advance gives you the chance to mitigate other risk factors. With this early knowledge, lifestyle changes and health habits can make a big difference to your future health.
If you’re at risk of preeclampsia.
Preeclampsia is a condition related to pregnancy, but it can also develop after your baby is born. This disease results in high blood pressure, as well as organ damage, most frequently to kidneys or the liver. The best treatment for preeclampsia is delivery, which isn’t safe earlier on in the pregnancy. Since preeclampsia is difficult to treat, it’s especially important to monitor. Blood markers can alert your doctor earlier on in your pregnancy, so blood testing is key for the overall health of you and your baby. Knowing you are at risk earlier on can help your doctor put together a treatment plan.
If you have gut issues.
In the last ten years, blood testing for gut issues has had major breakthroughs. If you’re suffering from digestive issues, it’s now possible to tell from a blood test if you have IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), IBD (inflammatory bowel disease), or another gut-related issue. The ability to pinpoint biomarkers through blood testing eliminates the need for multiple invasive tests. As with so many other ailments, obtaining a clear diagnosis means that treatment can be more effective. It can also be applied sooner, relieving you of uncomfortable symptoms.
The bottom line.
The science behind blood testing and the information it can provide us continues to expand. Aside from the more common diagnostics that blood work provides, these newer and lesser-known applications continue to help patients. It’s likely many more will be developed in the near future.
You can have your blood tested at any laboratory that your doctor recommends or refers you to. For quicker results, you should request to have your test done at a lab that provides web-based results. Other considerations are whether your insurance covers your test, or whether the lab offers Reference Lab services.